- Keith Newman
John and Joan Scott - Design and service shape community
“If you want to do something for your community or neighbourhood, then keep yourself well-informed and have your two cents' worth,”
Joan Scott, on retiring from the Haumoana Residents and Ratepayers Association.
Renowned architect John Scott and his wife Joan made significant contributions toward shaping and contributing to the community spirit of the Cape Coast, carrying a legacy from their parents that continues in their children today..
John Scott designed the Haumoana Playcentre, the Memorial Park Arch and Pavilion as well as elements of Matahiwi marae, although he’s better known and applauded for church and public architecture around the country. John Colin Scott was born in Haumoana on 9 June 1924, one of seven children of Charles and Kathleen Scott who had moved to the Grange property, bordering the Tukituki River along Haumoana Rd, in 1921.
Their offspring include artist, architect, educationalist and designer Jacob Scott, artist and designer Ema Scott of Stonepeace who mostly works in stone, twins Mathew and Simon, the late Harriet, and Adam. All family members have a strong entrepreneurial streak. Mathew still lives in the old family home.
John Scott and his older siblings attended Haumoana school riding there on horseback. He later attended St John’s college in Hastings where he became head prefect and captain of the First XV. He worked as a shepherd, volunteered for the airforce at the close of WW2 and from 1946 attended the School of Architecture at Auckland University.
He studied under teachers including Bill Wilson, who’s sister-in-law Joan Moffatt, he married in 1951. He eventually pulled back his studies to part-time, never actually competing his architecture diploma, although he now took on work with two architectural firms. He moved back to Haumoana with Joan in 1952 as a self-employed architect, having begun to develop a distinctive style, inspired by traditional New Zealand buildings including the Maori whare and woolshed. He initially designed private homes including the Savage House and the Falls House in Havelock North.
In 1954, the first church he designed at St John’s College in Hastings led to a commission for Marist Chapel in Karori, Wellington. The resulting Chapel of Futuna (1958–61) is considered by some to be his best work and recognised internationally, for the influences taken from the Maori whare including a central pole, ribs of rafters and low eaves. It won the New Zealand Institute of Architects gold medal in 1968, and the first 25-year Award in 1986.
Most of John’s private commissions were in Hawke’s Bay although he designed the Palmerston North Maori Battalion Memorial Centre in the 1950s, and the Urewera National Park Headquarters building at the edge of Lake Waikeremoana which was completed in 1976 using carved panels and tukutuku.
The Aniwaniwa Visitor’s Centre building fell into disrepair despite an undertaking from the Department of Conservation who were supposed to be caretakers. A dispute between Urewera Maori and the Waikaremoana Tribal Authority meant years of neglect placing its future at risk. Despite a national outcry that this was an architectural treasure, the building was demolished in September 2016.
John Scott’s work has been described as “bold, original and distinctly New Zealand”. The host of memorial site Craig Martin says he often sketched out his ideas on the back of envelopes and scraps of paper. “Scott didn't like pretence. His buildings are honest and straightforward. The details are simple and functional. He let his materials speak for themselves. He arrived on the job in shorts and bare feet. He took his work seriously but not himself.” John died after a failed heart operation on 30 July 1992.
Haumoana Campaigner Joan Scott stood by her husband who often took the limelight due to his iconic Hawke's Bay architecture. She had left a job in the fashion industry and an eclectic social life with the country's premier poets and writers; including Bruce Mason and Frank Sargeson, to be with her new husband in Haumoana. She soon became the community's biggest fan: “I'd fallen in love with the place within a few months,” she recalled in 2004 and was often referred to as the “Haumoana campaigner”. She was chairwoman of the Haumoana and District Ratepayers' and Residents' Association for 38 years.
The group was formed in 1966 after Hyla Rd flooded and local residents wanted council action on the height of the water table after big rains and overtopping by the sea caused drainage problems.
Joan Scott was instrumental in raising money for major projects at the beachside community, including restoring the Haumoana Hall, establishing a community centre and Plunket in the old post office building. She championed the planting of trees along the streets and fundraising for the playcentre in Holden Rd as well as pioneering the Haumoana market days in the 1990s, before the Haumoana School took over. She was concerned that Hastings council had failed to maintain the Memorial Park Pavilion which had been designed, along with the memorial arch to commemorate World War 2 soldiers. She and co-campaigner Anne Dixon reminded the council of the original agreement to take responsibility for these community assets and oversaw the renovations and upgrading of the buildings and grounds, says daughter Ema Scott. She was a strong advocate for people, particularly youth, even when they got themselves into difficulty, said her friend Andy Black, she “still held onto the belief that they were worth redeeming...She always made you feel special and had time for anyone who spoke to her.”
On retiring from her post with the Haumoana Residents and Ratepayers Association, she had a simple message: “If you want to do something for your community or neighbourhood, then keep yourself well-informed and have your two cents' worth.”
Joan Scott died of a heart attack aged 74-years in October 2004, survived by six children and six grandchildren. Son Jacob Scott in her HB Today obituary said she had tireless energy but her body, wracked with debilitating arthritis couldn’t keep up.
"There is a pile of letters here to the council and to the mayors. I think the message...has been to stand up for what you believe in and be what you are. She was an inspiration to a lot of people and if she cared about something she did something about it...she couldn't just sit on the fence."
Sources: Interviews with Ema Scott and Jacob Scott https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Scott_(architect) Craig Martin’s memorial site https://www.johnscott.net.nz/ Joan Scott obituary, HB Today, Haumoana campaigner's passion will be missed, Eva Bradley, Oct 25, 2004